Suddenly, I was awake. Sharp. Alert.

I kept my eyes shut, but remained still; listening,
trying to suss out what had disturbed my slumber.

I heard the fan oscillating – back and forth in the corner.
I heard the sea breeze kicking gently around the house.
I heard the channel buoy bells.
I heard Sandy breathing softly next to me.
These noises were all normal; they should not have pierced my veil of sleep.

I heard Noctern stir on her pad at the foot of the bed.
Whatever it had been the dog had heard it too.

I moved only to open my eyes.
A quick, staccato yip burst through the window and I knew the sound.

It had come in from the South; probably from the gulch.

I heard it again. It was closer this time, much closer than Arana Gulch.
The sounds of a scuffle and a mewling that was quickly silenced, as if it were only an echo from somewhere far away.
Three muted howls announced to the night that the hunt had been successful.

Noctern let out a heavy breath and settled her head back down.
In her mind, it was over.

I waited until I heard the pack pass; their claws ticked softly on the pavement,
the pads on their feet pounded an easy tattoo as they retreated into the darkness.


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